Type A Personality Traits Boost Stroke Risk in Study
By Salynn Boyles
WebMD Health News
Aug. 30. 2012 -- Need another reason to take life in stride and heed the advice, "Don’t sweat the small stuff"?
New research shows that people who are quick-tempered, impatient, aggressive, or naturally hostile may be more likely to have a stroke, compared to their more laid-back counterparts.
Having these type A personality traits was associated with a two-fold increase in stroke risk in the Spanish study, published this week in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.
Living with chronic stress increased stroke risk almost four-fold.
Stress is a well-recognized risk factor for heart attack, but the study is among the first to suggest a direct impact on stroke.
The Stress, Stroke Link
“Our findings indicate that people can lower their stroke risk by attempting to reduce the stress in their lives,” says researcher Ana Maria Garcia, MD, of the Hospital Clinico Universitario San Carlos in Madrid.
The study included 150 people who'd had strokes and 300 randomly selected people who had not had strokes.
The average age of the participants was 54, which is much younger than the typical stroke patient.
Garcia says that studying the impact of stress on stroke was easier in younger people who'd had strokes because they were less likely to have health issues like high blood pressure that have been linked to stroke.
All the participants were assessed for these known stroke risk factors. They were also asked about life stressors and other lifestyle factors that may impact stroke risk, such as alcohol use, coffee and energy drink use, and smoking history.
Stroke Risk Higher in Chronically Stressed
Among the findings: * Experiencing a major life event over the previous eight months resulting in chronic stress was a strong risk factor for stroke. * Having a type A personality, being a current or past smoker, and drinking two or more energy drinks a day doubled the odds of stroke. * Having a heart rhythm disorder and being excessively sleepy during the day (which is a leading symptom of sleep apnea) were both associated with a three-fold increase in risk.
Chronic stress and having a type A personality remained strong risk factors for stroke even